Radiation Oncology at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre and the Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology sites combine expert knowledge and technical capabilities to provide you with best possible care.
At the ONJ Centre, we operate three Linear Accelerators, including an Elekta Versa HD, all with Cone Beam CT and advanced imaging capabilities. Our treatment couch is a Hexapod 6o of freedom couch top. The Versa HD linac has Exactrac imaging capability, complementing our Stereotactic Radiation Therapy program. This allows for minute corrections in treatment angle and position before and during treatment.
For most techniques, our imaging allows us to ensure millimetre, or sub-millimetre, accuracy of radiation therapy delivery.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (IMRT or VMAT)
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is an advanced method of radiation therapy. It uses very precisely shaped and modulated beams of radiation, directed at the target site. The treatment is delivered from many different angles to allow a high dose of radiation to overlap in the centre of tumour, while shaping the radiation away from the normal healthy tissues.
The ONJ Centre and Ballarat-Austin Radiation Oncology use VMAT and IMRT techniques for many sites including the head and neck, prostate and brain. This is often augmented by the use of special markers, called fiducial markers, that help to track the position of the tumour before and during treatment. The markers are particularly helpful for tumours that are difficult to see on normal X-ray imaging, or that may move during treatment as a result of breathing.
IGRT - Image Guided Radiation Therapy
Our treatment units are equipped with imaging systems, allowing us to perform precise 2D, 3D and 4D image verification. For most techniques, our imaging allows us to ensure millimetre or sub-millimetre accuracy of radiation therapy delivery.
IGRT - MRI Guided Radiation Therapy
Coming in late 2020-early 2021
Work is underway to install two new, state-of-the-art MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines. MRI uses strong magnets to take pictures inside the body. It is very useful for looking at organs that are sometimes hard to see on CT scans or x-rays.
An MR Simulator, along with the existing CT Simulator, will be used to gather images to allow personal and accurate planning of where the treatment dose will be delivered.
An MR Linear accelerator (MR Linac) allows MRI images to be seen before and during the radiotherapy treatment. This allows treatment to be adjusted daily without additional radiation dose. This will allow the treatment to be delivered very accurately to the tumour and reduced the dose to surrounding normal tissue.
The ONJ Centre will be the state-wide service provider for this type of advanced radiation therapy for public patients.
The project is possible thanks to funding from the Victorian Government.
Stereotactic Radiation Therapy
Stereotactic Radiosurgery or Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy is an extremely precise form of radiation therapy treatment. It is delivered only to small, well defined tumours, giving a very high dose in a short number of treatments, or fractions. The high precision of the treatment allows the doses to be delivered to the tumour while limiting the exposure of healthy tissues to radiation.This allows us to compress the treatment into fewer treatment sessions.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy use advanced stabilisation, positioning and imaging technologies to ensure sub-millimetre accuracy of treatment delivery. Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy are available at ONJ Centre for a range of indications. Ballarat-Austin Radiation Oncology Centre will commence Stereotactic Radiation Therapy services in 2016.
Currently we have active programs for treating tumours of the lung, liver, brain, bone and lymph nodes. Your Radiation Oncologist will advise you as to whether stereotactic radiotherapy is required for your case.
Breathing Adapted Treatment
Deep Inspiration Breath Hold is the delivery of radiation treatment to the patient whilst the patient takes in and holds a deep breath. This technique is primarily used for the treatment of left-sided breast cancer to move the heart out of the radiation treatment fields, therefore reducing radiation dose to the heart. Breath hold techniques are delivered using the Elekta Active Breath Control (ABC) device. This assists you to hold your breath while the treatment is delivered.
In 2016 we became the first Victorian public centre to deploy on-treatment imaging using 4D cone beam CT. This technology allows us to verify the position of a cancer throughout the entire breathing cycle, and to correct for any changes we see with high precision. We currently use breathing adapted treatments to treat tumours of the breast, lung, liver and abdomen.
Superficial and Orthovoltage X-Ray Therapy
Superficial radiotherapy is a non-operative radiation procedure that is typically used for tumours of the skin, such as squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. It allows patients to avoid surgery, or repeat surgery, that could be disfiguring or dangerous. It is an established treatment with a good safety record. The side effects are often limited minor cosmetic changes in the colour or texture of the skin. Your Radiation Oncologist will counsel you about any other possible side effects, and whether it is indicated in your case.
Delivery of radiation therapy to skin malignancies is offered using Superficial and Orthovoltage X-Ray Therapy at the ONJ Centre. We treat cancers up to five times per week.
Brachytherapy is the use of a radioactive source placed within or very near to a tumour to treat from inside the body.You may be recommended brachytherapy for certain gynaecologic cancers.
There are two types of Brachytherapy – High Dose Rate and Low Dose Rate. High Dose Rate Brachytherapy uses a radioactive source, directed via a catheter, placed in or near a tumour for a short time and is offered at the ONJ Centre.
Clinical & Research Trials
We are actively involved in a number of clinical and research trials. These trials are a very important element of the service at The ONJ Centre, as participation ensures our staff and facilities remain world class. The ONJ Centre is proud to support ongoing research at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute. Austin Health radiation oncology is a facility member of the Trans Tasman Radiation Oncology Group.